urban75 blog

Pride movie dramatises the wonderful solidarity between Welsh miners and gay activists during the 1980s strike

Top of my list of films to see is ‘Pride,’ a heart-warming film based on the remarkable story of Welsh mining community miners uniting with gay activists to fight Thatcher during the Miners’ Stike of 1984/5.

LGSM members and miners dancing at the welfare hall in the Dulais Valley, Wales []

In an era famed for intolerance, homophobia and union-bashing, the film tells how a gay and lesbian group from London known as  LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) became firm friends and supporters of the embattled mining community in the remote Dulais Valley in south Wales.

Through their fundraising efforts, the LGSM ended up donating more money (£11,000 by December 1984) to the miners’ cause than any other fundraiser in the UK. They also donated a minibus emblazoned with the LGSM  logo, which must have caused a stir driving around the small villages of south Wales.

During the strike, miners and their supporters were invited to a fundraising event in a gay club in London. The speech made by one of the miners, Dai Donovan, is a thing of beauty:

You have worn our badge, Coal Not Dole, and you know what harassment means, as we do. Now we will pin your badge on us, we will support you. It won’t change overnight, but now 140,000 miners know that there are other causes and other problems. We know about blacks and gays and nuclear disarmament and we will never be the same.

A ‘romcom’ film starring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West has just been released and has already picked up rave reviews. Here’s the trailer:

Perhaps even more amazing is this archive footage from the 1980s, where miners, activists and the local community are interviewed.

The South Wales miners’ strike of 1984-1985 saw the formation of a curious alliance between a plucky group of young homosexuals from London and miners in Dulais Valley. In Dancing in Dulais, an initial wariness on the part of the young gays, the miners, and the miners’ families gives way, through sometimes delicate interactions, to a loving and purposeful solidarity. The unembellished videography captures well this fascinating-to-witness union of two disparate yet ultimately kindred groups

Fantastic solidarity.